One Economy Corp. is a national nonprofit organization, founded in July 2000, with the mission to maximize the potential of technology to help low-income people improve their lives and join the economic mainstream. One Economy was founded out of a spirit of both optimism and restlessness with the existing systems that serve the poor.
Unlike traditional digital divide initiatives, our approach is to bring technology into the home -- the center of culture and learning in most of our lives -- and to then build on that with educational and asset-building content. It is in the home that the truest transformational outcomes of technology will be realized. Too often, vital programs are located at one end of town while the intended recipients live at the other. Too often, we create unnecessary barriers for the poor who tend to have less time to take care of life's necessities. For more than four years, One Economy has worked to bring these innovations into the homes and the lives of the poor.
One Economy has three key program components all designed to create a "tipping point" in terms of culture. Our goal is to reach the point where individuals and communities have the capacity (skill) and the desire (will) to build economic and social assets. Our work centers on these three areas:
- Access One Economy works with top-of-market partners to facilitate the deployment of broadband into the homes of low-income individuals. We focus on creating affordable options so that the poor can acquire the connectivity and hardware they need to be part of the digital age. In February 2004, in order to bring technology into all new affordable housing developments at scale, One Economy launched Bring IT Home. The Bring IT Home national campaign, with honorary co-chairs Senators Bill Frist and Tom Daschle, seeks to change public policies at the state level by leveraging existing housing finance policy to encourage developers to integrate technology solutions into their housing plans - specifically high-speed Internet access. To date, One Economy has successfully worked to amend housing policies in 17 states, with additional states continuing to join Bring IT Home as we move into the second year of the campaign.
- Online Resources While One Economy has helped to bring technology into affordable housing around the country, we believe that access is only a means to an end. That access is less relevant if people cannot use it to access content that they can use to raise their standard of living and connect to the economic mainstream. To that end, One Economy has created the Beehive, an online, multi-lingual self-help consumer portal that offers national and local information and services to support the needs and potential of low-income people. The Beehive brings important information about money, health, school, jobs, child care, and much more to over 500,000 people every month.
- On-the-Ground Partnerships In a select number of cities, One Economy deploys a variety of programs designed to enhance low-income individuals' comfort with and aptitude for technology. These initiatives, including the hiring of "digital connectors" - a youth program that this year alone engaged more than 120 young people, providing over 10,000 hours of community service - and the creation of "digital communities," serve as living demonstrations of the vast potential of technology.
One Economy believes that the poor have the same fundamental goals and aspirations as the rest of society. Like their higher-income counterparts, low-income individuals want the "American Dream" for themselves and for their children. However, their lack of resources, information and connections prevent them from maximizing their potential to build assets, acquire formal education and improve their standard of living. One Economy's mission is to take what some refer to as the "digital divide" and transform it into the "digital opportunity." The Internet presents a unique opportunity to use technology to help us do the possible and the necessary - to connect the poor in a way that unleashes their potential.
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